USM Honors College Offers Challenge, Opportunity, and More to Students Southern Miss Now

USM offered its first Honors classes in 1965. By 1976, the program had formally evolved into an Honors College, making it the sixth oldest public honors college in the nation and the oldest honors college in the State of Mississippi. Today, the college includes approximately 500 scholastic standouts, with 125 new first-year students set to join the program for the Fall 2018 semester.

“At the induction, we provide each student with a pin – a small version of the Honors Medallion that they will receive upon completion of the Honors curriculum – as a reminder of the community they have joined and the future for which they are striving,” said Weinauer. “Students also read the Honors College Code, in which they pledge themselves to principles of academic integrity and civic engagement.”


Brown became the University’s first Truman Scholar in 1999. A native of Selma, Ala., he earned his undergraduate degree from USM in English/Political Science and his master’s degree in public administration at the University of Alabama at Montgomery. Currently, he serves as Vice President of Digital and Creative at Matrix LLC, a consulting firm based in Montgomery, Ala. Previously, he worked as executive director of the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy.

“I had some passionate teachers in high school, but I really learned to write at a higher level in the Honors College,” he said. “I learned that good writing comes from good thinking. I also learned how to take part in group discussions, sticking up for my own ideas without devaluing or discounting other ways of thinking. That has served me well over the years in professional life. Ways of thinking need to be challenged and refined.”

"The me, the Honors College is a safe space for me to get creative and think bigger," said Beauti. "Being a member of the Honors College is important to me because I am a student that thinks outside the box and loves discussion and interaction with other students to get different points of view. The Honors College offers exactly that which has improved my skills both inside and outside the classroom."

Over the past few years the college has developed new initiatives and programs to enhance the living/learning experience for students. The college is currently in the second year of a new curriculum that focuses on developing tools of scholarly and academic inquiry and on interdisciplinary training. The college also is in the second year of an enhanced student leadership initiative (the Honors College Leadership Council), which offers opportunities for civic and campus engagement to more than 50 Honors Scholars.

More than 40 years after its formation, the USM Honors College represents so much more than brick, mortar, desks, computers and curriculum. Those fortunate enough to earn admission to the college are held to the highest of standards. Students are taught to understand the ethics and values of the Honors College – that it embraces not only the pursuit of the highest levels of academic achievement, but also the importance of embracing risk, of going beyond one’s ‘comfort zone’ in pursuit of new opportunities for growth and development.

“We emphasize to students the respect for difference and the desire to learn from people who are different from ourselves – whether in terms of race, religion, sexual identity/orientation, socio-economic position, physical (dis)ability, family background, political views and the like,” said Weinauer. “Our goal is to help students in the Honors College see the importance of making a full commitment to using one’s capabilities for the common good.”